Abraham Lincoln once said, “We cannot escape history”.
He was right. We can’t. Every day of the year has history attached to it.
Take today, for example:
· In 1187, October 2nd was the day Saladin captured Jerusalem.
· In 1452, October 2nd was the day on which the Duke and Duchess of York welcomed a frail baby boy who would grow up to be King Richard III.
· In 1608, October 2nd was the day Jan Lippershey completed his prototype of the modern reflecting telescope.
· In 1869, October 2nd was the day on which Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born. The world would know him as Mahatma Gandhi.
· In 1871, October 2nd was the day Mormon leader, Brigham Young, was arrested for bigamy.
· In 1944, October 2nd was the day Polish rebels surrendered to German forces and ended the Warsaw Uprisings.
· In 1963, October 2nd was the day Hurricane Flora killed 6,000 people in the Caribbean.
· In 1968, October 2nd was the day the first British sextuplets were born.
A history hunt is a good way to spark children’s interest in history, since, in the course of seeking a specific event, they come across others as well.
How does a history hunt work? Well:
· First, pick a date, and find an event that occurred on it.
· Second, challenge children to use books and/or the Internet to find out “What historic event happened on (in this case) October 2nd?” If you’re feeling generous, or playing with younger children, you can give hints, such as “It was the birthday of someone famous.” or “It’s something that was invented on that day.” or “It’s to do with a natural disaster.”
· Third, set a time limit. The event has to be uncovered by such-and-such-a-time.
· Fourth, offer a prize. This serves as an incentive if the kids involved aren’t really ‘into’ history’ yet, and if they are, well, prizes are nice. It doesn’t have to be much, maybe just a chocolate coin, or an extra story at bedtime. If more than one child is playing, the prize goes to the one who’s first with the right answer. (Yes, the event you found happened on this day, too, but it’s not the one the Master/Mistress of the Hunt has designated the object of the hunt.)
Other interesting hunt choices for October dates might be:
The U.S.S. R. launching of the first artificial Earth satellite, Sputnik I: October 4th, 1957
The beginning of Cuba’s Ten-Years War: October 10th, 1868.
The first time a woman walked in space (American, Kathy Sullivan): October 11th, 1984.
The day the Roman emperor, Claudius I, succumbed to poison administered by his niece-wife, Agrippina: October, 13th, 54 A.D. (The inter-marriage thing is rarely a good idea.)
The installation of the New York telephone system’s first mechanical switchboard: October 14th, 1923.
The day France’s Marie Antoinette quite literally “lost her head”: October 16th, 1793.
The end of the Hundred Years War (which actually lasted one hundred and sixteen years): October 19th, 1453.
The commencement of the Battle of Trafalgar: October 21st, 1805.
The first U.S. horseshoe pitching contest: October 23rd, 1915.
The day America’s last pony express rider reached his destination (Sacramento, California): October 24th, 1861.
The day the Tennyson’s immortalized six hundred rode into ‘the Valley of Death’: October 25th, 1854.
The day when, despite his years of service to the crown, England’s Sir Walter Raleigh quite literally “lost his head”: October 29th, 1618, (Seems to have been quite the month for that, doesn’t it?)
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